Thursday, March 25, 2010

Iran: Leading journalist detained without charge; health concerns

Iran: Leading journalist detained without charge; health concerns

Published: March 23, 2010

English PEN protests the detention without charge of leading journalist and human rights activist Emadeddin Baghi. Baghi is among over fifty writers and journalists currently detained in Iran, many of whom were arrested in the crackdown following the disputed presidential elections of 12 June 2009.

English PEN is part of a coalition of leading press freedom and free expression groups campaigning for the release of those imprisoned. The "Our Society Will Be a Free Society" campaign - a reference to a pledge made by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on the eve of the 1979 Revolution - is currently gathering signatures for an online petition to be sent to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. To sign the petition, please visit the campaign Web site

According to our information, Emadeddin Baghi, prominent Iranian journalist and human rights activist, was arrested on 28 December 2009 following massive protests in Tehran and other cities to mark the Shi'a religious observance of Ashoura. He was arrested following the broadcast by the BBC Persian Service of a two-year old interview Baghi had conducted with the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, an influential cleric who died in December 2009. The government has sought to clamp down on publicity about Montazeri, who had criticized the conduct of the June presidential election.

Emadeddin Baghi has a long history of political imprisonment and persecution. He was first imprisoned on 29 May 2000 and sentenced to a three-year prison term on charges of 'endangering national security' for his writings about the serial murder of dissident intellectuals in Iran in the late 1990s. He served two years of that sentence, and one year was suspended. He was also handed down a one-year suspended term in 2003 for "endangering national security" and "printing lies" in his book, The Tragedy of Democracy in Iran. His newspaper Joumhouriat was shut down in 2003. In October 2007 he was sentenced to one year in prison for "acting against national security', 'propaganda against the Islamic Republic' and 'divulging state secret information' for his activities as president of the Society for the Defence of Prisoners' Rights, an organisation that he founded in 2003. In December 2007 he suffered a heart attack and three seizures in prison, and remained in poor health without adequate medical care until his release in October 2008. He was a main case of International PEN during his previous detentions.

Baghi is the founder of the Association for the Defence of Prisoner's Rights, which had been compiling information on torture and other abuses of detainees. In the late 1990's he exposed the serial murders of Iranian intellectuals. His books Right to Life and Right to Life II argue for the abolition of the death penalty and have been banned by the authorities. He is author of twenty books, six of which have been banned in Iran, and winner of the Martin Annals Award in 2009 and British Press Awards for International Journalist of the Year 2008. He remains detained incommunicado without charge in Tehran's Evin prison, in solitary confinement and without access to family visits. He is in poor health stemming from his previous imprisonment, and there are fears that he is at risk of ill-treatment and medical neglect in prison. Concerns for his health and well-being are mounting.


Baghi's arrest is part of a major crackdown on dissent which has seen unprecedented restrictions on the media in Iran. There have been widespread arbitrary arrests of journalists and leading reformist figures, in flagrant violation of Iran's commitments to human rights, free expression and legal due process under the Iranian constitution. Following the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidential elections announced on 13 June 2009, widespread peaceful protests by supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi who dispute the election result have been suppressed by the authorities. In the crackdown which followed, dozens of journalists and writers have been imprisoned, and some have been convicted in unfair trial trials to lengthy sentences on vague anti-state charges. More writers and journalists are currently jailed in Iran than any other country in the world. For more information, please click here and here.


- Protesting the detention of leading Iranian journalist and writer Emadeddin Baghi;
- Expressing serious concerns about Baghi's health, and urging that he is given full access to any necessary medical care, family visits and legal advice;
- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Iran in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.


Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: or

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency


His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: 98 21 6 674 790
(mark: "Please forward to H.E. President Ahmadinejad")

If possible please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country:

His Excellency Rasoul Movaheddian
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Prince´s Gate
Fax: 0207 589 4440

India: Writer facing charges; concerns for safety

India: Writer facing charges; concerns for safety

March 17, 2010

English PEN is seriously concerned about the charges facing Mumbai-based writer Murzban Shroff for his debut book Breathless in Bombay. We believe that the charges brought against Shroff may be politically motivated, and fear for his freedom and his safety.

According to our information, Shroff was charged in February 2009 under Section 153 (b) of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly making statements prejudicial to national integration in the book Breathless in Bombay. The charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison. The complaint was brought by an activist who objected to certain dialogues including the word 'ghati' in 'This House of Mine', one of fourteen stories in the collection. The term 'ghati', meaning 'hilly billy', is a derogatory term for Maharashtrians and is used by one of the characters in the story. The complainant alleges that the term was used intentionally to create communal disharmony and incite feelings of enmity, hatred, and ill will. The complaint was filed in the Metropolitan Court which directed the police to file a first investigation report and investigate the matter. Shroff maintains that the book explores the issues of class divide and class biases, and that the views of the fictional character that uses the word are not representative of those of the author. The complaint was brought a year after the book was published, and there has been no evidence of unrest. Shroff and his family were provided with police protection in April 2009, following fears that publicity surrounding the case could lead to a politically-motivated attack.

On 18 September 2009, when Shroff petitioned the Bombay High Court to quash the order of the Metropolitan Court, the judge held that Shroff was 'an author not a trouble-maker' and that no coercive action was to be taken against him. On 23 September 2009 the police submitted a report to the Metropolitan Court stating that their investigation of the case found that the story had a unifying and not a divisive message, and recommending that the charges be dropped. On 20 January 2010 the case was dismissed by the Bombay High Court. However, on 30 January 2010, the complainant presented a protest petition to the Metropolitan Court, before the same magistrate who had originally admitted the complaint, alleging that the police investigation was biased and that it should be investigated by another branch of the police. The magistrate has accepted the appeal and ordered a fresh investigation into the matter. Shroff has once again had to approach the Bombay High Court, who are expected to hear the case on 19 March 2010.

Meanwhile, a second complaint was lodged against Shroff in Kodaikanal, South India, on 21 November 2009 under articles 292 and 293 of the Indian Penal Code for another story, 'Traffic', in the same book, which the complainant alleged to be 'obscene.' This charge is also believed to be without foundation. Shroff has approached the Madurai High Court in South India to quash this order, and it is also expected to hear the case on 19 March 2010.

English PEN urges the Indian authorities in the strongest possible terms to uphold their constitution and the international treaties to which they are a state party by ensuring that all criminal cases against writer Murzban Shroff are dropped, and that he is given police protection as a matter of urgency.


Breathless in Bombay is a collection of short stories published in February 2008 by St. Martin's Press U.S. and Picador India. The book has been favourably reviewed by forums such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Review, Booklist, and the BBC Asian Network. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize in the best first book category from Europe and South Asia. A recent review by a premier American university held the book to be "a dialectic of nation-building."

Please send appeals:

- Expressing serious concern that the charges against writer Murzban Shroff are politically motivated, and could present a threat to his safety;
- Urging the Indian authorities in the strongest possible terms to uphold their constitution and the international treaties to which they are a state party by ensuring that all criminal cases against writer Murzban Shroff are dropped.

Send appeals to:

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Fax: 91-11-2301-6857

If possible please also copy your appeal to:

Sonia Gandhi, Leader, Congress Party

Rahul Gandhi, General Secretary, All-India Congress
Fax: 91-11-23018550

Shri M. Veerapa Moily, Honorable Minister of Law
No 3, Tughlak Lane, New Delhi 110011
Fax: 91-11-23018347.

Ashok Chavan, Honorable Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mantralaya.
Fax: 91-22-23631446


Shri K.G. Balakrishnan, Honorable Chief Justice of India
Supreme Court of India, Tilak Marg, New Delhi 110 001.


You may also wish to send copies of your appeal to the Indian Embassy in London:

H.E Mr Nalin Surie
Indian Embassy
India House

Writers Speak their Minds: a celebration and a campaign

Because Writers Speak their Minds: a celebration and a campaign

Because Writers Speak their Minds logo

In 2010, the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN celebrates 50 years of defending freedom of expression around the world with a year-long campaign - Because Writers Speak their Minds.

Freedom of expression has been a linchpin of International PEN since its formation in 1921. Concerns for colleagues imprisoned, executed, tortured through times of war, peace, revolution, and détente took the form of speeches at congresses, resolutions, letters of support, telegrams to offending governments and an embrace of exiled writers. But in 1960 this tradition of solidarity and compassion became, formally, a Committee.

On July 24, 1960, at a Congress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, General Secretary David Carver reported that a committee of three people had been empowered at a previous meeting to research and produce a list of imprisoned writers. The list circulated to delegates that day contained 56 names-seven writers imprisoned in Albania, 25 in Czechoslovakia, 13 in Hungary, two in France and nine in Romania.

Carver proposed that where there were PEN Centres, in countries 'where writers had been imprisoned because they spoke or wrote their minds', those centres should work to improve the situation and report to PEN. In countries where there were no centres, International PEN should act through a Writers in Prison Committee.

The Committee of three individuals is now a Committee of more than 70 PEN Centres worldwide. The annual case list often contains around 900 names of writers, editors, journalists, publishers and internet writers. Our central focus is the plight of persecuted individuals. We've always named names. And despite historical differences, our work is remarkably singleminded: Burning books and blocking blogs are one and the same.

The campaign: Over the year we'll look back at the work we've done, with 50 emblematic cases illustrating where and how and why we have worked. PEN centres around the world will participate and report on events, reflections on their own work and campaigns on current cases. We'll look to the future, to see how the WiPC must evolve and adapt to meet new challenges. Because writers must speak their minds.

If you'd like to find out about our partnership with the UK writers association 26, click here. 26 have randomly paired each of the 50th anniversary writers with a writer from 26. The brief? Write 50 words, no more, no less, inspired by the life and work of the 50th anniversary writer that they have been paired with. These 50 parcels of poetry, prose, meditation and agitation are being posted online, day by day, through to the last day of Free the Word! in London on 18 April. 26:50 started on Saturday 27 February with 1960: Musine Kokalari. The project will end with an unnamed writer for 2010. There's no chronological order to postings in between.

We urge people to check in for a moment of inspiration every day. Feel free to comment on the blog as it unfolds. Spread the word ...

Fifty Years of Women Writers in Prison

Fifty Years of Women Writers in Prison

8 March 2010 - International Women's Day

2010 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN, which has since 1960 helped many hundreds, if not thousands, of writers attacked for expressing their ideas and speaking their minds. Throughout the year PEN members will be celebrating the courage of these writers and the work of the Committee. Central to the campaign are 50 emblematic cases of writers for whom PEN has campaigned in the past half century. Among them are fourteen women who have suffered imprisonment and even death for their writings. On 8 March Women's Day, the WiPC celebrates and commemorates all women writers, past and present, who have suffered arrest, attack and even murder for having spoken out.

To read more about the campaign go to: Because Writers Speak Their Minds - 50 Years of Defending Freedom of Expression

1960-Albania-Musine KokalariAmong the first cases worked on by PEN's WiPC was that of Musine Kokalari, who, by the time the Committee was established in 1960, had already been imprisoned for 14 years. She was the first woman writer to be published in Albanian but fell foul of the authorities in 1946 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. She was released into a job as a street sweeper in 1964 and died in 1983. All her work had been destroyed and PEN hopes to be able during this anniversary year to publish a piece for the first time in over 60 years.

Women's rights activists have found themselves at the forefront of the struggle for free expression. One of those is Nawal El-Saadawi, known internationally for her feminist writings and an outspoken critic of the Egyptian government. Saadawi was imprisoned between 1981 and 1983 and has over the years since received death threats, had her books banned and harassed by the authorities. Less well known but nonetheless influential, was Alaíde de Foppa de Solórzano a leading Guatemalan writer and activist who ran a weekly feminist radio programme in the late 1970s which, among other issues, highlighted the oppression of Mayan women. She was among the 45,000 people who disappeared during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala in the 70s and 80s. She was last seen in December 1980, 30 years ago.

Another woman writer who was among the thousands who disappeared in the Americas during the same period was Alicia Partnoy. She, however, survived her ordeal and returned after six months in prison where she was beaten and tortured, to tell her story. She now lives in the USA.

1973 China Nien ChengNien Cheng also wrote a searing account of her own imprisonment in China in Life and Death in Shanghai. In 1966 Cheng was accused of being a spy for the UK and incarcerated for six and a half years. During this time she was subjected to interrogation, torture and solitary confinement. In October 1978 government officials apologised for Nien Cheng's wrongful arrest and imprisonment. In 1980 she left China the USA. She died in 2009 aged 93.

In the Americas today, outside of Cuba, there are few countries that imprison writers, but since the 1990s there has been an alarming and consistent pattern of murders, particularly of journalists who disclose corruption. Today Lydia Cacho, a Mexican journalist and campaigner against child sex abuse, lives under constant threat. She was briefly detained in 2005 and although she was eventually acquitted of defamation of a businessman she implicated as being involved in child pornography rings, the threats continue.

In the 70s and 80s, as today, women in Iran found themselves the target of oppression. Shahrnush Parsipour has had the dubious honour of being imprisoned both under the Shah in the mid 1970s, and by the Revolutionary Guard in the early 1980s. Parsipour, like many other writers who survive prison, find themselves in exile. Poet Maria Elena Cruz Varela left Cuba in 1994 after two years in prison and now lives in Spain. Martha Kumsa, an Ethiopian journalist and Oromo rights activist is now in Canada after nine years imprisonment without charge during which time she was subjected to physical abuse and torture by prison guards. The controversial Bangladesh author, Taslima Nasrin, who fled death threats and a trial for her "blasphemous" writings in 1994, remains unable to return to her home country and continues to write challenging articles for which she is still threatened. Sihem Bensedrine, a journalist and activist from Tunisia has suffered endless harassment, brief arrest and threat for over a decade, and now lives outside her country, returning as often as she can to maintain her work as an advocate and activist for democracy and human rights in Tunisia and the broader Arab world.

For decades, writers in the Soviet Union were sent in their thousands to gulags, prisons and psychiatric units. Among them was Irina Ratushinskaya, whose poetry smuggled from prison has become a standard text for the study of the literature of incarceration. She was freed in 1986 after four years hard labour and 2006 - Russia Anna Politkovskaya officialcame to Britain. She has since been able to return to Russia. The fall of the Iron Curtain brought new dangers. Where in the past imprisonment had been used to silence critical voices, it is now the gun. Since 1992, 52 journalists have been killed in Russia, including nine women. In 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a courageous journalist who covered all kinds of dangerous assignments, from Russian army human rights abuses in Chechnya, to local corruption, was herself assassinated

One the world's longest serving political prisoners is the Burmese writer and opposition party leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, held under house arrest for 14 of the 21 years since she was first arrested in 1989. In February 2010 the Supreme Court in Burma rejected an appeal by Aung San Suu Kyi against an extension of her house arrest.

Women writers under attack today

Women continue to be imprisoned, threatened and killed for their writing today. Of the 900 writers and journalists who had suffered attacks recorded by the WiPC during 2009, 52 are women. Three of them are among the emblematic cases featured in PEN's 50th Anniversary campaign: Lydia Cacho, Sihem Bensedrine and Aung San Suu Kyi. Here follows outlines of three others.

Natalia Estemirova

PEN's annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer on 15 November 2009 featured Natalia Estemirova, a journalist and rights defender working for the acclaimed rights group, Memorial, in Chechnya, was abducted and murdered, shot in the head and chest in a nearby woodland, on her way to work in Grozny. Estemirova was a close colleague of Anna Politkovskaya, and the two women had collaborated in disclosing abuses.

Parvin ArdalanParvin Ardalan, a leading and award-winning Iranian writer, editor and women's rights activist has been under threat since 1997. She has been repeatedly arrested, interrogated and harassed, summoned to court on numerous occasions and has been subject to travel restrictions and heavy surveillance. Ardalan left Iran for Sweden in September 2009, after being invited to give a talk by the Swedish feminist magazine Bang. If she is returned to Iran, the persecution against her would resume. Olaf Palme Award for Parvin Ardalan

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, a Vietnamese novelist, poet, essayist and editor of the underground dissident magazine To Quoc (Fatherland), has been under heavy surveillance and harassment since September 2006 for her writings published online. She was arrested at her home in April 2007, where she had already been under house arrest for six months. She was convicted of ‘causing public disorder' and released after her trial, but still faces three years under a surveillance order.

John Ralston Saul wins prestigious award

John Ralston Saul wins prestigious award

John Ralston Saul (c) Sophie BoussolsJohn Ralston Saul, President of International PEN, has been awarded the 14th Manhae Grand Prize for Literature, one of South Korea's most prestigious awards.

The Prize was established in 1997 in memory of Buddhist Reverend Manhae Yong Woon HAN, to award excellence in the fields of peace, social service, academic excellence, art, literature and missionary work. Previous recipients have included Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka and Ko Un.

Mr Ralston Saul, on receiving the news of his award, said:

'This prize, which seems to be their major literary prize, comes out of a Buddhist view of peace and how people can live together, and I think that's very moving, very humbling. It's a very interesting way of coming at public literature.'

For the full article, published in The Globe and Mail newspaper of Canada,

Ralston Saul humbled by prestigious literary prize

Canadian novelist John Ralston Saul, 62, poses on October 20, 2009  in Linz, Austria. Ralston Saul was named new president of the PEN club  international on October 21 during the 75th world congress of the  writers association in Linz.

Canadian novelist John Ralston Saul, 62, poses on October 20, 2009 in Linz, Austria. Ralston Saul was named new president of the PEN club international on October 21 during the 75th world congress of the writers association in Linz.

Canadian novelist and essayist wins Manhae Grand Prize for Literature, one of South Korea's most prestigious awards


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Canadian novelist and essayist John Ralston Saul has won the Manhae Grand Prize for Literature, one of South Korea's most prestigious awards.

The honour puts Mr. Ralston Saul in distinguished company alongside past winners such as Nelson Mandela, Nobel laureate in literature Wole Soyinka, the Dalai Lama, and more recently Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human-rights advocate who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

"It's wonderful when something [like this] comes out of nowhere," Mr. Ralston Saul said yesterday evening.

The prizes, awarded each year for peace, literature, social service, art, academic excellence and missionary work, were established in memory of Manhae Han Yong-un, a revered Korean Buddhist poet and political leader who advocated Korean independence from Japan in the early 20th century. They are given for a body of work that honours Han's ideals of freedom, equality, harmony and love.

For years, Mr. Ralston Saul has been an occasional traveller to South Korea and a keen reader of its writers, particularly the younger generation of authors he describes as "extremely sharp and disturbing."

One of his early visits shaped his Governor General's Award-winning Massey Lectures, The Unconscious Civilization, which includes "a reflection on how humans could be integrated into a place based on Buddhist buildings that I'd seen." The work received special notice in his citation for the Manhae Prize.

He will travel to South Korea in late August to accept the award.

"This prize, which seems to be their major literary prize, comes out of a Buddhist view of peace and how people can live together, and I think that's very moving, very humbling," he said. "It's a very interesting way of coming at public literature."

The author of 10 non-fiction books and five novels, Mr. Ralston Saul has written widely on Western civilizations and their power structures, examining concepts from individualism to democracy. His latest work, A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada, argues that Canada is a Métis nation.

Last October, Mr. Ralston Saul became the first Canadian to be named president of International PEN, a worldwide association of writers. He is married to former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson.

About the Prize:

The society for the Promotion and Practice of Manhae's Thoughts establishes the Manhae Prize(Manhae Daesang) in memory of, and for the dissemination of, the high thinking and noble mind of Reverend Manhae(1879-1944).

As is well known, Reverend Manhae devoted his body and soul to the noble and just cause of national independence: until he breathed his last, he fought against the tyranny of the Japanese colonialist rule, armed with the idea of freedom and equality and that of harmony and peace, and he never ceased putting into practice his idea of love; indeed, he not only loved his country and its people but also had a deep affection for all the living beings of the word.

What is the most valuable thing in this world? It would be a noble mind that cares, and pays respect to, all the living beings of the world, and it would be the idea of love that enables all the living being of the world to be born and enjoy life. Also, it would be the idea of freedom and equality or the idea of harmony and peace that helps the idea of love come into full bloom. Reverend Manhae knew this and actively upheld what he believed to be the most valuable cause. Indeed, he is one of the paragons of justice and morality, whose high thinking and noble mind have illuminated all of us the right path to peace and happiness.

To repeat, in memory of, and for the dissemination of, Reverend Manhae's Prize in the following categories; Peace, Social Service, Academic Excellence, Art, Literature, and Missionary Work. The Society hopes that the Manhae's high thinking and noble mind. And the successful and fair management of the Manhae Prize.

The Society for the Promotion and Prac tice of Manhae's Thoughts.

(January 1997)

PEN American Center News: March 11, 2010‏


March 25–28:
Tenth National Black Writers’ Conference

Stop by Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and say hello. Please e-mail us if you will be attending.

>> More

April 7–10:
AWP Conference in Denver

Drop by the PEN table, and also catch our event featuring authors Jackson Taylor, Sapphire, Phillip Lopate, and Marie Ponsot. Let us know if you will be at AWP by e-mailing Membership Manager Nick Burd.

>> More




Join PEN’s Campaign to Free Writers and Journalists in Iran
PEN is one of a number of leading free expression organizations mounting a campaign this month in support of writers and journalists in Iran. Please sign our petition to help free our colleagues now. >> Sign the petition

PEN, Book Groups See Progress on Patriot Act
The Campaign for Reader Privacy believes that developments in 2009 have laid a strong legislative foundation for securing significant new protections for library circulation and bookstore sales records. >> More

Writer Liao Yiwu Prevented From Attending Book Festival
Liao Yiwu, a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), was removed from a plane bound for a literature festival in Cologne, Germany, and was placed under house arrest. >> More

Free Expression Groups Call on Iran to Allow U.N. Rights Experts
Tehran’s envoy Mohammad Javad Larijani spoke of a “standing invitation” for the U.N.’s special rapporteurs to visit and investigate claims of rights abuse—only to later reverse his position. >> More


April 26–May 2:
PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature
With more than 50 events, 150 writers, and 40 different countries, this week-long celebration of books and writing from around the globe features conversations, readings, an all-star Cabaret, and much more. >> More

*Festival tickets on sale March 18 at 2 p.m.*

Thursday, April 8:
Secularism, Islam, and Democracy:
Muslims in Europe and the West

Tariq Ramadan, in his first public appearance in the U.S. since he was barred from entering the country in 2004, will join author Ian Buruma and author/Obama advisor Dalia Mogahed to address issues relating to secularism, Islam, and democracy. >> More


Found in Translation
Speaking across geographies, styles, and literary conventions, this year’s Translation Feature includes work by Macedonio Fernández, Ayane Kawata, and Eshkol Nevo, among others; a Brazilian Portuguese Translation Slam; and new online resources for translators. >> More

Reflecting on Black History Month

Visit the Open Book Feature for podcasts, tributes, readings, poetry, fiction, and original essays reflecting on African American writing and art. >> More
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PEN American Center | 588 Broadway, Suite 303 | NY, NY 10012 | (212) 334-1660

Announcing the Sixth Annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature‏

The Sixth Annual

April 26 to May 2, 2010

150 Writers from 40 countries in more than 50 events

Featuring: Sherman Alexie, Maziar Bahari, Alina Bronsky, Philippe Djian, Ariel Dorfman, Roddy Doyle, Richard Ford, Shirley Hazzard, Mohsin Hamid, Aleksandar Hemon, Yiyun Li, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, Natalie Merchant, Toni Morrison, Ben Okri, Sofi Oksanen, Richard Price, Salman Rushdie, Patti Smith, and Jean-Philippe Toussaint, along with many other participants.

PEN American Center is proud to announce the sixth annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. Join us for an exciting week-long celebration of books and writing from around the globe. A stellar line-up of emerging and established authors will take the stage in venues across New York City and several satellite locations from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. Don’t miss this exciting cross-cultural literary exchange, featuring conversations, panels, performances, readings, a translation slam, and an all-star Cabaret night!

For a full schedule of Festival events and a complete list of participating authors, please visit

Many events are free but some events require paid tickets and/or reservations and are likely to sell out.

Wednesday, April 28

Readings from Around the Globe
Celebrate the opening of the festival with an evening of readings featuring an extraordinary lineup of internationally acclaimed writers: Mohsin Hamid, László Krasznahorkai, Andrea Levy, Yiyun Li, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, Sofi Oksanen, Atiq Rahimi, Salman Rushdie, Alberto Ruy-Sanchez, Patti Smith, Andrzej Stasiuk, and Miguel Syjuco.

[buy tickets] [event details]

Thursday, April 29

Adaptation: From Page to Screen
Philippe Djian, on whose book the film Betty Blue was based, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, whose work has been compared to the films of Jim Jarmusch, Barry Gifford, whose Wild at Heart was directed by David Lynch and celebrates its 20th birthday this year, and Richard Price, whose book Clockers was directed by Spike Lee, take a look at what is lost—or gained—in the translation of fiction to film. Francine Prose directs the action.

[buy tickets] [event details]

Weather Report: What Can We Do?
A transatlantic conversation about the latest on global warming, the Copenhagen climate talks, and policy options for the future, featuring some of the premier scientists and writers from the U.S. and Scandinavia. Presented in collaboration with NYRB and the Fritt Ord Freedom of Expression Foundation of Norway.

Tickets for this event go on sale late afternoon Friday, March 19.

[buy tickets] [event details]

Friday, April 30

The Great Fire—Shirley Hazzard in Conversation with Richard Ford
Don’t miss this rare meeting of two modern-day masters of the English language and the grand themes—“time, love, the coming around of inexorable events … the acceleration and dislocation of modern life.”

[buy tickets] [event details]

Saturday, May 1

The Fourth Annual PEN Cabaret
Join acclaimed songwriter Natalie Merchant performing songs from her new album, award-wining author Ariel Dorfman reading a spooky cyber horror tale, and appearances by Booker Prize–winning novelist Ben Okri, Georgian novelist and performance artist Irakli Kakabadze, and surprise guests. Emceed by editor, author, and jazz singer extraordinaire Rakesh Satyal.

[buy tickets] [event details]

Sunday, May 2

Sherman Alexie: The Fifth Annual Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture
I Writer: The artistic, political and economic responsibilities of writers in the digital age. As print publishing is rapidly changing, and radically altering what it means to be a writer, how should we respond? Don’t miss this unique appearance by the National Book Award–winning author.

[buy tickets] [event details]

The PEN World Voices Festival is made possible by the generous support of many co-sponsors, partner organizations, cultural agencies, and individual donors. The Sponsors for this year’s Festival are Bloomberg, The Kaplen Foundation, LJK Literary Management, Stephen & Ann Pleshette Murphy, Random House, Arthur Ross Foundation, Annette Tapert & Joseph Allen and The Roger Smith Hotel.
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PEN American Center | 5

Secularism, Islam, and Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West


The 2010 AWP Conference will take place from April 7 to 10 in Denver. Stop by the PEN table and say hello. If you plan on attending, please let us know.

PEN is also proud to be presenting an event as part of the conference:

Revisions of Truth
Thursday, April 8:
Capitol Ballroom, Hyatt Regency Denver, 4th Floor

With Jackson Taylor, Marie Ponsot, Phillip Lopate, and Sapphire

>> More

Secularism, Islam,
and Democracy:
Muslims in Europe
and the West

With Dalia Mogahed, Tariq Ramadan, Joan Wallach Scott, and Jacob Weisberg

When: Thursday, April 8
Where: The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street, NYC
What time: 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $15/$10 for PEN/ACLU Members and students with valid ID. Tickets are available through or by dialing (212) 868-4444. They may also be purchased at the door. Seating is by general admission, on a first-come, first-served basis.

PEN and the ACLU will join forces to present Tariq Ramadan’s first public appearance in the United States since he was barred from entering the country in 2004. This event will offer a unique opportunity to hear Professor Ramadan talk about issues relating to secularism, Islam, and democracy, along with Dalia Mogahed, Joan Wallach Scott, and Jacob Weisberg.

The panel discussion is presented as part of an initiative to promote national reflection and accountability in the United States. It also celebrates a victory of important principle—that American audiences should be able to hear directly from important figures such as Professor Ramadan.

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Free the Word! 2010

Free the Word! 2010

14 – 18 April

Tickets now on sale …

Back for a third year, International PEN’s Free the Word! festival of world literature is set to take London on a global journey of words through conversations with the great writers you know and the great writers you don’t.

Extending our literary celebrations to five days to bring you over 40 writers from 25 countries, we’re still offering our usual reader’s box of delights. Come and interrogate the graphic nature of crime writing, discuss the fact of fiction, hear the stories of international best-selling writers and listen to the voices of up-and-coming talents.

We are delighted to welcome Nobel prize-winning poet Derek Walcott, Cuban Noir novelist Leonardo Padura, graphic novelists from Israel, India and Denmark, poetry from Uyghur China, Zapotec Mexico and Somalia, a rare appearance by US author Richard Ford in conversation with Blake Morrison, as well as events featuring outspoken Egyptian novelist Nawal El Saadawi. We will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee in some special events that mark their work defending freedom of expression since 1960.

We’re also teaming up with English PEN, the Hay Festival and Bloomsbury Books to celebrate the Hay Beirut39 literature festival with a free event at the Free Word Centre on Thursday 15th April at 1pm.

Click here for more information about Free the Word! events and to book tickets:

Events take place at Southbank Centre, Southwark Playhouse, Foyle’s Bookshop, the Free Word Centre, the Young Vic and the London School of Economics.